Friday, February 5, 2016

Interview: 10 Questions With The SUPER Andrew DeGraff

Andrew DeGraff
images copyright Andrew DeGraff

"Star Wars" Movie Maps

1.... what medium and tools do you use to create art?

I pretty much work in gouache on paper. It's the best medium I've found for making precise colored line, as well as being pretty low toxicity and safe as art materials go. I use traditional gouache (not acrylic gouache) because it can dry and be re-wet. Generally the map paintings happen over a month or more, and that means I can pre-mix a palette for that painting, and not worry about it drying on the palette and having to re-mix.

2.... can you describe your creative process when making art?

Well, ideally for paintings I like to sit in a dark room and think about it - I try to get right on the edge of dreams, and let the ol' subconscious do the heavy lifting. For the maps, it's a little bit of guided dreaming that for the overall look, and then a lot of note taking and flow charting. I basically have to reverse story board every scene, and try to recompose it. Part of the problem of doing the paintings by hand on paper is that you really can't make big mistakes - once you cover that patch of paper, you can never go back. I try to be really sure of my pencils and double check everything. It sounds boring, but I find it really meditative.

"Goonies" Movie Map
3.... what helps boost your creativity?

Coffee, museums, tumblr, exercise, mass transit, NPR, a really good tree . . . Anyway that I can unclench my brain.

4.... what helps you maintain motivation when creating?

What really keeps me moving - or at least keeps my butt in the studio - are audiobooks. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, generally non-fiction and sci-fi. The movie maps take 100 hrs, and sometimes up to 1000 for the sofa size LoTR trilogy map, so it's nice to have a long book or series to pass the time. I think every painting has a joyful beginning, and satisfying ending, but in the middle can be a stressful drudge - which is a great time to listen to a biography of Bruce Springsteen.

"Jaws" Movie Map
5.... what is the secret to creating a great piece of art?

I think the secret to makeing something great is 50/50 split of ego and selflessness. I think you have to be absolutely true to yourself. But every painting or artwork big or small is sort of a gift to the world, and I think you should be aware of your audience, the universe, and it's influence on you. You have reflect, not just project and vice-versa.

"Back To The Future" Movie Map
6.... do you feel its important to follow your passion in your career?

Absolutely. I feel really lucky that there's something I knew I wanted to do since I could hold a pencil, and really thankful that my family supported my decision to go for it.

"Ghost Busters" Movie Map
7.... how and when do you get your best ideas?

I like to go for a run in the middle of the day, have lunch, take a shower and do little siesta for 15 to 20 minutes to recharge. I find it's the best time to do my little guided half dreaming.

"The Shining" Movie Map
8.... who are your favorite artists?

My two all time faves are Joan Miro and Otto Dix. Some other big ones the fave mix are Ben Shahn, R. Crumb, Chris Ware, Henry Darger, Paul Gauguin, Hieronymous Bosch, many others. I also love good old fashioned illustrators: J.C. Leyendecker, John Berkey, Chris Foss, Bernie Fuchs, Parrish, Rockwell - the pure craft of those guys is unbelievable.

"Star Trek" Movie Map
9.... do you offer workshops for artists?

I don't - I used to teach at illustration at Pratt, my alma mater. I really miss it. I'd love to do it again.

10.... if you could give other artists one piece of advice what would it be?

Don't get intimidated by your ambition, just jump in a go for it. The more you push yourself, the easier it will be next time and the more you'll learn. A lot of my illustration students would have a great idea, and then groan realizing the time and work it would take to make it happen. But if I could convince them to do it, they were always glad they did. I do the same mental hemming and hawing. But if I think it would be cool, especially if it's complicated and scares me a little, I have to do it. I'm always glad I did, even if I'm not totally happy with the result.

"Indiana Jones" Movie Map

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